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Time to Gear Up for NaNoWriMo 2011

Time to Gear Up for NaNoWriMo 2011

    National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for all you crazy kids, starts today. Mike wrote yesterday about how to be mentally ready for NaNoWriMo, giving you the mindset to succeed. But what about the tools? Here is what gear you can use to get your 50k words down this November.

    The Shortlist

    Here are some of the great writing tools that I can’t recommend enough. These include tools for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android.

    Evernote

    Evernote is the much-loved ubiquitous note taking, writing, and personal memory database tool that is used by millions on almost all platforms. Hell, they even have a version for the dying WebOS.

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    Anyways, Evernote provides the user with reliable syncing and ways for you to save photos and even voice notes to keep you going when writing this month.

    Simplenote

    If you don’t like the rich text-ness of Evernote, then Simplenote may be the tool for you to use this month. Simplenote is a plain text syncing service that can be used on the web, iOS, and Android. You can create any number of notes and tag them. Pretty simple.

    My only gripe is no “offline” access like you get with Evernote on the desktop.

    Text files coupled with Dropbox

    This has been my staple way of doing things for the last year or so on my iOS devices, Mac, Windows, and even sometimes Android. Basically using a simple text editor that allows access to a folder or set of folders in your Dropbox account.

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    So get yourself a Dropbox account (as if you don’t already have one) and try out one of these great plain text editing apps:

    Mac: Notational Velocity, NValt, BBEdit, TextWrangler, WriteRoom, Coda, Byword, iA Writer, macvim, TextEdit

    Windows: Notepad++, TextPad, E Text Editor, UltraEdit, Sublime Text 2, vim

    iOS: Elements, Notesy, PlainText, Nebulous Notes

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    Android: Epistle, Simple Notepad

    Scrivener

    And of course we can’t forget about using Scrivener, one of the best tools for planning, researching, and constructing long documents. Scrivener was first available only for Mac, but now you can get yourself a Windows copy (currently in beta). Scrivener is probably the tool that I will be using starting my 50k word journey tomorrow.

    Nice thing about Scrivener is that if you download it tomorrow you can get a 30 day trial which is just enough time to finish your work. As an added bonus, Literature and Latte (the company that makes Scrivener) will offer all NaNoWriMo “Winners” a 50% discount after they complete their 50k words. Nice touch.

    Tactical Tools

    So, you got your favorite text editor now and our ready to type your way to 50k. But, NaNoWrimo isn’t all about just text editors and typing. You need to have some strategies to complete your novel.

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    Timers

    Sometimes one of the best ways to hunker down and get some writing done is promising yourself to write for a certain amount of time. You can use some timers to keep track of your time and also force yourself to write.

    Probably one of the best ones is the free Adobe Air app focus booster because of its ease of use and simple interface. You can even try out focus booster – live if you don’t want to download anything. It is more of a Pomodoro technique tool, but you don’t have to buy into that idea to get some utility out of it.

    Reminders and motivation

    I am a huge fan of the site 750words.com and have used it over the past few months for motivation in writing. If you are in the NaNoWriMo running you will have to write 1667 words per day to get to your 50k. Having a site like 750words send you email nudges as well as a running word count at the bottom of your daily writing can definitely keep you motivated.

    Also, if you are feeling like your plot is running out of steam or that there is no way in hell that you can make it, you can always check out the NaNoWriMo forums for some inspiration. There is nothing better than looking through the forums and reading what some of these intelligent writers do to stay motivated and on point. And, if you have any advice to give to struggling writers, this is a good place to do it.

    So, good luck in your 50k word adventure this November. Remember, there is no such thing as writer’s block. Keep your fingers moving and use some of the tips and tricks that we have provided you to make your way through this year’s NaNoWriMo.

    More by this author

    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on September 16, 2019

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

    We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

    The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

    Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

    1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

    Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

    For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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    • (1) Research
    • (2) Deciding the topic
    • (3) Creating the outline
    • (4) Drafting the content
    • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
    • (6) Revision
    • (7) etc.

    Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

    2. Change Your Environment

    Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

    One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

    3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

    Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

    Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

    My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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    Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

    If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

    Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

    I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

    5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

    I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

    Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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    As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

    6. Get a Buddy

    Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

    I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

    7. Tell Others About Your Goals

    This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

    For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

    8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

    What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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    9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

    If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

    Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

    10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

    Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

    Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

    11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

    At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

    Reality check:

    I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

    More About Procrastination

    Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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